Was recently reading someone’s post on Facebook about not getting much response from the manufacturers with regards to a “yet to be named” kid’s contest he was going to hold. It seemned to be an attempt at sympathy, along with the threat of naming those companies who did not respond or donate as he had hoped. Having been the Marketing Director for Garrett Metal Detectors back in the late 80′s, it brought back a lot of memories…..
First of all, most all manufacturers, companies, businesses involved with the treasure hunting pastime do what they can to help promote it, and this includes supporting clubs, charities and the like. When I was at Garrett it would depend a lot on the size of the club, the event, etc., and did we already donate to them over the past few months.
Back then Garrett would usually donate a mid to low end detector, but as time went on the requests increased, and eventually hunt packages became the norm, not just for us, but with most manufacturers. A hunt package might include caps, aprons, diggers, books, etc.. Keep in mind too that for each metal detector we gave away it was potentially a lost sale for one of our local dealers…
I cannot begin to tell you how many requests we would receive each day, but it was a time consuming task, separating the good from the bad, the legit from the phony. One particular request stands out in my mind, and let me see if I can remember some of the details…..
It was a letter from a Father John Smith (or something similiar) of St. Cheats Catholic Church (not a real church) in Chicago, Illinois, and he was writing on behalf of Johnny Jones, who was diagnosed with a rare disease and had only a few weeks to live (photo included of an extremely emaciated young man, much like those you would see from a WWII Nazi death camp).
Father Smith continued…”while on his death bed, one of Johnny’s last requests was to own a Garrett Master Hunter ADS metal detector (model GT#4555, page 8 in catalog), with the 8 inch coil (catalog number GT333, page 15), deepseeking 14 inch (catalog number GT444, page 15), hard carrying case (catalog number GT555, page 16) and the Garrett digger (catalog number GT666, page 17)”.
Father Smith asked if we could find it “in our heart” to send these items to Johnny’s home (address given), and if we did he knew it would make his last days on earth that much more memorable.
After all of us at the factory passed the letter around and had a good laugh, I decided to see if I could contact Father Smith, and called information for the number of St. Cheats Catholic church in Chicago. Of course there was no listing, nor was there for Father Smith. I then decided to try and find a phone number for poor little Johnny Jones (if of course he was still alive), and surprise, surprise….there was one.
I dialed the number, and a young man answered the phone….I asked if I might to talk to Johnny Jones, and he said “this is he”….. I asked how he was feeling, and he was curious why I asked such a question. I said I heard about his rare condition and saw his photo, and it didn’t seem like he would be able to pick up a phone, let alone talk as cheerfully as he did. Next thing I heard was a click….he hung up.
This story was of course over the top, and my sharing it is not meant to poke fun at clubs or anyone requesting help with events. It’s meant to remind you that you are not the only one asking. Just going through all of these requests could be a full time job for many of the manufacturers, and may well be at this time (that was in the 80′s).
In any case, the individual on Facebook who got me thinking about all this needs to calm his anger, and his temptation to name those companies who didn’t instantly sign on to his cause. He needs to know the treasure hunting business community is small and very close knit. In other words “Don’t bite off your nose to spite your face“
SPEAKING OF FRAUD….
Published May 2011 in The Searcher UK detecting magazine
THE GEORDIE CONMAN
by John Winter
It isn’t always easy to write about the bad apples in the hobby, but we do have them and it must be done. What follows is a salutary tale involving many people, but principally those from an on-line detecting forum. The members of this respected forum were cruelly used in a scam to make money.
GeordiePaul – the Fraud
In April last year a new subscriber, 42-year-old Paul White of Washington in Tyne and Wear joined the forum, using the pseudonym ‘GeordiePaul’ and pretending to be an ex-paratrooper. He contributed well, made many posts and generally became what appeared to be a ‘respected’ member. Alas, appearances were proved deceptive.
At the end of May 2010 and after being a member for only just over a month, White informed people that he had to sell his detector because his three-year-old daughter had become very ill and he needed money quickly. When pressed by concerned forum members for more information he said that she had a ‘rare form of brain tumour’ and if she didn’t have the treatment would go blind or even die.
He went on to say that, as the operation couldn’t be done in England, the best and fastest way of sorting it out was to have the treatment done in America – and soon. Evidently, ‘the specialists had moved the goal posts’ and he needed an extra £500 – that was why he had to sell his detector!
Initially, White never asked for money but was buoyed by forum members offering to send various amounts so he set up a PayPal account for those wishing to contribute saying, “I know this is cheaky (sic), but if any of you could maybe donate a pound or so, I’d be eternally grateful.”
Naturally, many people started sending money – detectorists are caring people, but there were some who were a little more circumspect and started asking questions both on and off forum that were either ignored or never satisfactorily answered.
America and the Last Post
Purporting to be logging on from America, White reassured members that the operation had gone well and his little girl would be fine – “thank God!” Unknown to him the forum owners were monitoring his posts and concluded that he was sending from a computer on Tyneside. After a week of evidence gathering and compiling a dossier of all the evidence, they forwarded the file to the Northumbrian police.
In his last post to the forum, White thanked everybody who had helped him ‘over these troubling times’, but unfortunately he had been getting some ‘disturbing’ emails and asked for his account to be deleted. He ended by saying, “Thank you very much. We Paras never forget!” We learned later that shortly afterwards he treated his family on an overseas holiday!
Arrest and Sentencing
Paul White, alias GeordiePaul, was arrested on July 30 last year on suspicion of obtaining money via the transfer site PayPal and charged with dishonesty offences on November 30 at the Houghton-Le-Spring magistrate’s court.
He pleaded guilty to four fraud charges and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 120 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay more than £550 in compensation.
As I said in my introduction, writing about such things isn’t easy and there is a tendency to brush them under the carpet. Thanks mainly to Shane Rear and his diligence in ensuring and running a ‘good’ forum, this story can be told. Although GeordiePaul has a small child, she wasn’t suffering from a brain tumour and he was simply using her in a scam to get cash. Be vigilant!
RELIC ROUNDUP SHOW LAST NIGHT
Last night’s Relic Roundup was very disappointing. Mark Schuessler was the guest, and I had hoped to hear about new directions for the FMDAC, but when the show ended I hadn’t learned a thing.
Mark is certainly the perfect guy to get this group on track, but unfortunately he did not have much of anything new to offer. I hate to criticize but why come on a show, and then mention that you do not have a viable website, or for that matter, a definitive group of officers, and/or some plan to get members enthused again. How long must they wait? Getting a decent website up and running is very important, and I am assuming the FMDAC has some money left in it’s coffers, or do they not?
I also wish the gang at Relic Roundup would find a way to screen the callers so that the topic at hand can’t be sidetracked. Between a fifteen minute introduction, a few commercials and phone calls, you’re lucky to hear 30 minutes of what it was you tuned in for.
Lastly If I hear one more mention of the “Silver Seekers” I will croak! It’s pretty much common knowledge that this group “morphed” from the FMDAC, and became nothing more than a large social group, causing many member clubs and invidiuals to drop out of the Federation. Here’s hoping the FMDAC develops it’s own identity, and once again becomes an organization that all TH’er want to be part of.
Now, go ahead and beat me up…..